VP Singh is Dead
In the midst of all the news surrounding the Mumbai blasts, one important event got sidelined. The death of Vishwanath Pratap Singh, former prime minister of India.
Adopted by the Maharaja of Manda at the age of five, VP Singh went on to become the Chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. As CM he gave away land to the poor as part of Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan movement and led a ruthless campaign against bandits.
VP Singh had a checkered political career of a mere seven years on the national stage.
In 1984 Rajiv Gandhi appointed him his finance minister. During the Bofors scandal, he was about to disclose the names of middlemen which led to a fallout with the then ruling Gandhi. He was dismissed from the cabinet and resigned from the parliament.
In the 1989 elections, the BJP and the left combined against the Congress and VP Singh became Prime Minister of India.
He was there when Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s daughter Rubaiya was kidnapped, and exchanged for five of the most wanted terrorists India had managed to nab. His role lasted all of one year, before the BJP pulled the rug from under the government following the Babri masjid demolition and the ensuing events.
But these are not the reasons why he will be remembered forever.
The reason he will be hard to forget is that he was the person responsible for introducing reservation in India by accepting the recommendations of the Mandal commission. This decision led to massive nationwide protests by students who suddenly were left with even worse education and career prospects, because a big chunk of the seats in colleges as well as government jobs was going to be reserved for the so called lower castes. The intent may have been noble, but this single action has since then grown into a much abused and misused institution that has only served to add to incompetence, mediocrity, and discontentment in India.
VP Singh was an important man. A man whose actions changed India forever.